Abu Dhabi: The UAE Ministry of Health has approved and made available across the country eight different antiretroviral medications (ARVs) used to reduce chances of an HIV infection by approximately 79 per cent if taken within 72 hours after exposure to HIV, Gulf News has learnt.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), the administering of ARVs as soon as possible after exposure to HIV, are only available with a prescription and recommendation by health authorities and/or the Ministry of Health (MoH).

"PEP is not 100 per cent effective; it cannot guarantee that exposure to HIV will not become a case of HIV infection," explained Dr Farida Al Hosani, Senior Regional Officer for Public Health and Policies at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and a member of the National HIV Committee at the MoH, at a three-day HIV/AIDS workshop.

Al Hosanis' current focus is to council, assure, create trust and explore the feelings of people who feel they could be infected with HIV.

"We receive reports about the condition from people who had unsafe sex. If this person's partner admits he/she has HIV, they should instantly contact us and we may give them an ARV to help reduce the chances of exposure. The problem is that HIV positive people rarely admit it," she said.

Whether HIV tests are positive or negative the persons identity remains confidential, health authorities are tied by the national law regarding HIV/AIDS and must report the case to authorities, and expatriates with HIV are deported.